Psalm 85 – a prayer for revival
The psalmist is praying at one of the low points of Israel’s roller coaster spiritual journey. He reminds himself and God of past times when God has redeemed Israel and saved them from destruction . He calls out to God to revive them and asks whether He will go on being angry with them.
He then commits himself to listen to God, and prays there will be no return to folly.
I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.Psalm 85:8 NIV
This is followed by a wonderful dance of faithfulness on earth with righteousness from heaven, with peace and love joining in.
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.Psalm 85:10-11 NIV
The psalmist has moved from wondering whether God’s anger will continue to a solid confidence that God is on the move, bringing righteousness before him.
Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.Psalm 85:13 NIV
The psalmist has indeed been revived, he sees heaven touching earth and is full of praise and delight. Relationship has been restored.
Faithfulness has been expressed in a turning to God. But this is not primarily a psalm of man’s lament and repentance. Rather it is a psalm of God’s outrageous grace and favour, poured out to a people who have sinned yet again, but who are once more being revived and restored.
The pivotal moment in the psalm is the psalmist’s personal resolution to listen to God. Before this he is calling out to Him in faith. Once he listens, he is revived! He has clearly heard from God, perhaps literally, but certainly in his spirit. The Holy Spirit has touched, revived, and energised him with a confident hope of righteousness.